"Tentative, leery and circumspect is no way to go through life son..."
In case anybody got the idea from this previous post that I make a point of pride of having no permanent style, that's not the case. I never landed on one mainly because my assignments have constantly demanded a range of flexibility, something a lot of artist must go through. Anyway, when I was starting out style was on the wane to begin with Back then everybody was doing variations on a generic style haphazardly cribbed from middle-of-the-road Disney designs. And less from the actual designs than re-imagined impressions of them. The "modern" end of the spectrum consisted of people doing the same thing with generic UPA type designs 20 years or more out of date. Gradually that burned off and more artists of my generation and younger were able to break out of that mold.
As for the phase of copying idols I went through as a kid, thatguyjames turned me on to THIS : 'The Dreyfus Model,' something i recognized myself in immediately, with a smile and some sense of relief. A lot of times I would ape a technical thing. Like when I discovered cross-hatching--without realizing that it was a holdover from the days of engraving. And that often it was achieved with a yet another bygone photo process I had no awareness of. That I did not learn all these things in the correct order or context might be more normal than not. I guess I should be glad I could put two and two together as I went along.
So i guess the shorter version of the whole issue is: substance over style, even at the technical level. But style and substance (obviously) aren't mutually exclusive.
If you are honing a personal style you want to take with you from cradle to the day you drop, you might want to ask yourself:
Is it a rich style?
Meaning, does the style allow for growth while still having distinctive features? Will you be able to keep it up to date as the world around you changes . Avoid getting trapped or going stale. Every career has its highs and lows, likely to peak and ebb or at least plateau. Hopefully your style is built to last.
Maybe most important of all: a style should be genuine. The default personal style that leaks out of my pencil is one I have not always gladly accepted. Often I have wished it was more elaborate, more arresting, more standout, more readily impressive. I like to think it is smarter and subtler than it used to be, even thought that probably isn't all that evident on the surface.
Why it is what it is i will theorize about some other time.
But at this point in life, the style that comes to me the most honestly and regularly is the one I have to accept.